A BOLTON pensioner whose house collapsed around him in a massive gas explosion has only just been told his home is in ruins.

Frank Webster, aged 72, was pulled from the wreckage of his detached bungalow two weeks ago after a blast virtually levelled the building.

He is currently being treated at the burns unit of Withington Hospital for injuries to his face, hands, arms and legs.

Nursing staff insisted his family did not tell him that his bungalow in Bishops Road, Great Lever, had been destroyed, because they feared the news would badly affect him.

But yesterday, his brother Harry, of Piggott Street, Farnworth, decided the time was right to tell Frank his beloved home had been destroyed.

"It was heart-breaking having to tell him, but I think the time was right," said Harry. "I told him that his house had been destroyed and he wouldn't be able to move back in, but I still don't think he realises the true extent."

Harry is now going to take Frank pictures of the shell of his bungalow to show him just how lucky he is to be alive. "I think it is the only way to show the true scale of the damage," he said. "It might be hard for him to see, but at least it will show him how lucky he was to get out of it alive."

The building, at the junction of Bishops Road and Lakeside Avenue, was blown apart by the force of the blast and what little remained standing was later demolished by contractors.

Social Services have been speaking with the family since the blast and it is expected that Frank will be given a flat to live in for the time-being.

"He lived in that house for almost 30 years and it was his pride and joy," added Harry. "It is such a shame that it is all gone, but he is in good spirits and we have rallied around to help him.

"Once he gets out of hospital, we will try to get him back to normality as quickly as possible."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.